Wheels explores the joy of going topless, though raising the roof also raises some interesting questions.
First published in the May 2016 issue of Wheels magazine, Australia’s most experienced and most trusted car magazine since 1953.
WHAT’S the protocol with leaving the roof open when parked?
When parking at a coffee shop, can I get my morning take-away and expect my work bag will still be on the passenger seat when I come back?
What about when I go to the barber’s for my monthly mop lop? Okay, in this instance, I’m not naïve. But what if there’s nothing in the cabin? Can I leave the roof down and expect to not find a cigarette butt or litter in the cabin (both of which have happened)?
These are the weighty first-world conundrums I tackled after taking over our long-term Mazda MX-5 Roadster 1.5. It was also a month of compulsory roof-down motoring. Every single trip the lid was off, unless it was raining.
Putting the roof down is a cinch: undo latch, hurl roof back, push down until it clicks. And to re-roof the roadster, a latch between the seats pops the light cloth lid up from its hideaway so it’s easy to reach. No longer do you need Mel Gibson’s ability to dislocate your own shoulder.
I like driving roof-down. You feel a little exposed but it does make a journey more fun, even in peak hour. I feel incredibly small in the Mazda MX-5, though, staring into the alloys of the SUV alongside.
My dog likes travelling roofless as well. She gets that wind-on-her-tongue feeling without having to hang out the window. Her fur, however, swirls around everywhere in the cabin, and it’s a bugger to vacuum out.
I put the roof up for one particular drive, despite the clear blue sky and warm late summer sun. A weekend away with friends up the King Valley involved a 3km dirt private roadway to the property, and no amount of journalistic curiosity could convince me to drive that stretch roof-down.
I may have driven that dirt road a little faster than I should have, but the MX-5 made me do it. It’s such a sweet, chuckable little roadster that drifts with balletic precision and wondrous ease. The anaemic little 1.5 had no troubles kicking the butt out under power – with the ESC off, obviously.
So. Much. Fun. Every one of the five times I tackled ‘my’ special stage.
Getting the dirt out, however, is not so much fun. It didn’t get into the cabin too badly, but there was a light covering over the dash and in the vents. And while it didn’t get past the boot’s dust sealing at all, it’s pure hell getting a rag in and around the hinges. Still, fun has a price, right?
Mazda MX-5 1.5 Roadster
Price as tested: $32,240
Part 2: 1752km @ 8.1L/100km
Overall: 2784km @ 7.3L/100km
Date acquired: December 2015